The fifth annual Rivals.com New Jersey Junior Day drew more than 120 prospects to the Hale Center at Rutgers University from six different states. With star power from the likes of defensive back Antwine Perez, wide receivers Andrey Baskin and Vidal Hazelton and defensive linemen Johnnie Troutman and Jason Adjepong, the players from the Northeast represented well.
The event kicked off with a talk from Don Bosco Prep head coach Greg Toal Sr., who has coached numerous D-1 players over the years including his two sons, Greg and Brian. Toal was able to give a coaches point of view as well as some fatherly advice to the players and parents.
Toal was followed by 2005 recruit Dave McClain, who took time out from Rutgers practice to share his experiences with the players. Speed guru Bill Parisi (www.parisischool.com) wowed the crowd with a video on how to train for combines and his inspirational speech. New York Giants defensive lineman De Osi Umenyiora spoke from an NFL point of view and Nick Lubischer spoke about the upcoming Elite College Combine on May 4th in New Jersey.
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More than 30 of the 120 or so players on hand already boast D-1 offers led by Camden (N.J.) Woodrow Wilson safety Perez (Southern Cal, Ohio State, Tennessee and others) and his teammate Baskin (Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee and more). Both players impressed with their size at their respective positions with Perez weighing 199 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame and Baskin checking in at 6-foot-4 and 192 pounds.
Staten Island (N.Y.) Moore Catholic Vidal Hazelton is another long wide receiver, checking in at nearly 6-foot-3 and 192 pounds while Troutman (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) and Adjepong (6-foot-3, 253 pounds) certainly have the size and thickness to compete early in college. Troutman, from Browns Mills (N.J.) Pemberton Township, has early offers from Boston College, Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia and Iowa. Adjepong, from Carteret, N.J., recently received new offers from Michigan State, Penn State, UConn and Minnesota.
Other standouts in attendance on the day were Edensburg (Pa.) Bishop Carroll tight end Jeff Minemyer, Feasterville (Pa.) Neshaminy defensive tackle Tom McEowen, Staten Island (N.Y.) Monsignor Farrell defensive end John Ferrara North Arlington (N.J.) Queen of Peace teammates Mike Gee (defensive end) and Joe Torchia and Absecon (N.J.) Holy Spirit athlete Zach Luckett.
The class of 2006 wasn't the only one well represented as a few 2007 prospects were invited as well. Piscataway, N.J. athlete Tony Logan already has verbal offers from Rutgers, Georgia and Maryland while Camden (N.J.) Woodrow Wilson wide receiver Karon Robinson, Vorhees (N.J.) Eastern quarterback Andrew Daley and Mansfield, Mass. defensive end Corey Eason (among others) also won't have any trouble gaining attention.
Finally, let's not forget about the big eaters. Seven players checked in at more than 300 pounds led by mammoth offensive tackle Justin Nowakowski, from Roxbury, N.J., at 6-foot-8 and 334 pounds.
This is a deep year in New Jersey and a very strong year for Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, so as many as 80 or 90 of the prospects on hand are expected to play at the D-1 level (including 2007 players).
"This was a great event," said Parisi, sponsoring and attending his first Rivals.com Junior Day. "I think it's a great idea to help educate and inform the players on the decision that lies ahead. Lock me in for next year and beyond."